Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One in eight U.S. high school teachers presents creationism as a valid alternative to evolution

A recent survey of high school science teachers indicates that one in eight present creationism as a valid alternative to evolution in biology classes. According to Brandon Klein at Wired, “… 25 percent said they devoted classroom time to creationism or intelligent design. Of these, about one-half -- 12 percent of all teachers -- called creationism a 'valid scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species,' and the same number said that 'many reputable scientists view these as valid alternatives to Darwinian theory.'"

Evolution is considered part of the foundation of biology and a working knowledge of biology is essential for any level of scientific literacy. Creationism, on the other hand, is a religious belief in the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. (Creationism is often masked as “intelligent design”, a pseudo-science that leaves out references to the Bible but claims that the universe and all living things were created by a higher intelligence rather than by an evolutionary process.)

The Great Beyond has this assessment:

A worrying number of American teachers appear to be pushing creationism and intelligent design on high school biology students.

“Three different survey questions all suggest that between 12% and 16% of the nation’s biology teachers are creationist in orientation,” write study author Michael Berkman and colleagues in
PLOS Biology. “Roughly one sixth of all teachers professed a ‘young earth’ personal belief, and about one in eight reported that they teach creationism or intelligent design in a positive light.”

They conducted what is claimed to be the first ever nationally representative survey of biology teachers’ views on evolution and found 16% of them believe “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so”. This is way down on the general population, which picks this option 48% of the time.

Still these views appear to be filtering through to lessons, with 18% of teachers spending at least an hour on creationism, 5% spending at least three hours and 3% spending over six hours.

And, to put a little more light on the subject:

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